(Washington, DC) – Today the Chilean judge overseeing the extradition proceedings for former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori closed the investigative period when parties are allowed to present evidence, but Fujimori has failed to respond to evidence linking him to human rights abuses and corruption, Human Rights Watch said.
The former Peruvian president has been in Chile since November 6, 2005, when he surprisingly arrived in that country after evading justice for five years in Japan. At that time, Peru presented a request for his extradition on charges in 12 cases.
“Fujimori has had almost a year to respond to the serious charges and substantial evidence supporting Peru’s extradition request,” said José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas division at Human Rights Watch. “But all he has done is issue denials and smile at the cameras.”
Now that Chilean Judge Orlando Álvarez has closed the investigative period, lawyers for Peru and Fujimori will present final briefs in the next few weeks, and then the Court will reach a decision on extradition.
As detailed last year in Human Rights Watch’s report, "Probable Cause: Evidence Implicating Fujimori,” the information implicating Fujimori in several cases currently pending in Peru is credible and more than sufficient to meet the legal standards to justify his prosecution and trial in Peru, and therefore his extradition from Chile. These cases include:
- Barrios Altos and La Cantuta Massacres: Fujimori is charged with responsibility for the killings of 25 people in two separate events in 1991 and 1992. The massacres were allegedly carried out by the Colina Group, a specialized squad of military intelligence officers. Former members of the Colina Group have stated that it was created as part of an antiterrorism strategy approved by Fujimori. Military intelligence documents also show that the Colina Group was a part of the official Army Intelligence structure, and that it received financial and logistical support from the Peruvian army. Fujimori subsequently approved an amnesty law that ensured Colina Group members’ impunity for their abuses.
- Diverting Funds for Personal Benefit: There is extensive documentary and testimonial evidence that Fujimori established a complex system to divert public funds every month from their official purposes to special accounts in the National Intelligence Service (“Servicio de Inteligencia Nacional” or “SIN”), which were controlled by Fujimori’s advisor Vladimiro Montesinos. Every month, according to several witnesses, Fujimori had hundreds of thousands of dollars of the diverted funds personally delivered to him or his family.
- Payment of US$15 million to Montesinos: Fujimori has been charged with arranging to have $15 million in state funds given to his advisor Montesinos, shortly before the collapse of his government in 2000. Fujimori signed an emergency decree authorizing the funds transfer to a Defense Sector account. A former government minister has testified that Fujimori then ordered that the funds be used to pay Montesinos. Other witnesses, as well as Montesinos himself, have testified as to Fujimori’s involvement and subsequent efforts to cover up the transfer.
Other serious cases against Fujimori involve charges of widespread illegal phone tapping and bribery of opposition politicians and the media.
Corruption and human rights violations frequently go hand in hand. In Fujimori’s Peru, large-scale corruption not only deprived Peruvians of public resources that could have been used to alleviate economic need, but also seriously eroded the rule of law, which is essential to the protection of human rights. Moreover, through corruption the government was able to fully subvert the democratic process, eliminating normal checks by the judiciary, legislature, and the media on government abuses.
In statements in the Chilean proceedings, Fujimori has denied knowledge or participation in the crimes, without offering any credible response to rebut or undermine the substantial testimony and documentary evidence against him.
Fujimori’s extradition to Peru will be decided by the Chilean Supreme Court, which requires that the evidence supporting extradition requests be sufficient to establish probable cause to bring charges, though not necessarily to convict.
“There is more than sufficient justification to extradite Fujimori,” said Vivanco. “It is time for him to finally respond to the evidence against him in Peru.”